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NVIDIA GT200 Revealed - GeForce GTX 280 and GTX 260 Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
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The Products – GeForce GTX 280 1GB Flagship

With the new naming structure for their internal code names (curious why G92 was followed up by GT200?), the GeForce 10-series will never be.  Instead we get a somewhat curiously named product: the GeForce GTX series.  While “GTX” was once a suffix for the top end cards of each series, it is now the name of a series with a three number denomination as a product differentiator.  No matter, we don’t care about names, just performance.

The GTX 280 uses the full power of the GT200 chip including all 240 SPs and the full allotment of memory controllers.  We have already detailed the architecture, but what about individual speeds?  As it turns out our BFG GeForce GTX 280 card runs slightly over reference speeds:

Pretty much everything you could want to know is seen here in our GPU-Z screenshot.  The core clock runs at 615 MHz, the 240 shaders run at 1.35 GHz and the 1024MB of GDDR3 memory runs at 1107 MHz.  The reference clocks for the core and shader speeds from NVIDIA are 602 MHz and 1296 MHz so we are only seeing 2.5% and 4.0% increases, respectively. Maximum board power is labeled by NVIDIA at 236 watts!  We’ll see more on that as we get to our power consumption testing.

For a quick sanity check the estimated street price for these cards is $649.

The physical size and weight of card is very similar to that of the 9800 GX2 – it’s not a small card by any stretch of the imagination.  The plastic casing completely surrounds and engulfs the heatsink and fan combination just as it did on the 9800 GX2 card – they are obviously products of the same mind. 


The rear of the card is part of the completely encased design as well and does give the final product a much more refined appearance. 

>Here you can see that the GTX 280 cards have the same audio connection that allows for pass through to the HDMI output that the 9800 GTX and 9800 GX2 had.  The power connections seen here include both an 8-pin and 6-pin PCI Express connection – and BOTH are required. No more support for 2x6 PCIe on the flagship NVIDIA cards – it looks like there is no turning back now.

The GeForce GTX 280 has two dual-link DVI outputs, both of which can support a DVI-to-HDMI dongle, as well as a TV output connection for S-Video, composite or component output.

The fan on the GTX 280 is definitely big but wasn’t noticeably louder than the 9800 GTX fan we have become accustomed to.  That roughly translates into “not too loud” and also “cools well” if you are looking for specifics.

The SLI connections are covered under a rubber cover that is of MUCH better design than the previous cover used on the 9800 GX2 that was plastic and hard to replace/remove. 

Hidden underneath are two SLI connections required for 3-Way SLI support.

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